Dan Hicks (singer)

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Dan Hicks
Hicks at the Santa Fe Brewing Co., June 28, 2009
Background information
Birth name Daniel Ivan Hicks
Born (1941-12-09)December 9, 1941
Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
Died February 6, 2016(2016-02-06) (aged 74)
Mill Valley, California
Genres Folk, pop, jazz
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1965–2016
Associated acts Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, The Charlatans, The Acoustic Warriors
Website www.danhicks.com www.danhicks.net

Daniel Ivan "Dan" Hicks (December 9, 1941 – February 6, 2016) was an American singer-songwriter who combined cowboy folk, jazz, country, swing, bluegrass, pop, and gypsy music. He led Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks. He is perhaps best known for the songs "I Scare Myself" and "Canned Music." His songs are frequently infused with humor, as evidenced by the title of his tune, "How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away?" His album, Live at Davies (2013) capped over forty years of music.

Early life[edit]

Hicks was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on December 9, 1941.[1][2] His father, Ivan L. Hicks (married to the former Evelyn Kehl), was a career military man. At age five, an only child, Hicks moved with his family to California, eventually settling north of San Francisco in Santa Rosa, where he was a drummer in grade school and played the snare drum in his school marching band.

At 14, he was performing with area dance bands. While in high school, he had a rotating spot on Time Out for Teens, a daily 15-minute local radio program, and he went on to study broadcasting at San Francisco State College during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Taking up the guitar in 1959, he became part of the San Francisco folk music scene, performing at local coffeehouses. Hicks joined the San Francisco band The Charlatans in 1965 as drummer.


In 1967, Hicks formed Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks with violinist David LaFlamme. LaFlamme left to form It's a Beautiful Day, and was replaced by jazz violinist "Symphony" Sid Page. Vocalists Sherry Snow and Christine Gancher, guitarist Jon Weber, and bassist Jaime Leopold filled out the band, which had no drummer. This line-up was signed to Epic and in 1969 issued the album Original Recordings, produced by Bob Johnston. The first Hot Licks line-up lasted until 1971 and then broke up.

When Hicks reformed the band, Page and Leopold remained, and vocalists Naomi Ruth Eisenberg and Maryann Price joined, followed later by guitarist John Girton. This group recorded three albums, culminating in 1973's Last Train to Hicksville (on which the group first added a drummer). After existing as a critical success only, the album gained the group wider acclaim, as evidenced by Hicks' appearance on the cover of Rolling Stone. Nevertheless, Hicks broke up the band. It reunited for an appearance on Austin City Limits in 1991.

The program also featured Hicks' new group, The Acoustic Warriors, a combination of folk, swing, jazz and country which included Brian Godchaux on violin and mandolin, Paul "Pazzo" Mehling on guitar, and Richard Saunders (musician) Richard Saunders on bass.[3] In 1993 the Acoustic Warriors continued to perform locally around San Francisco and on the road, but this edition placed Paul Robinson on guitar, Nils Molin or Alex Baum on string bass, Stevie Blacke on mandolin and Josh Riskin on drums. Hicks recorded one CD with the Acoustic Warriors. Shootin' Straight was released by Private Music in 1996. Recorded live at McCabe's in Santa Monica, it featured Jim Boggio on accordion/piano, Stevie Blacke on mandolin/violin, Paul Robinson on guitar, Alex Baum on bass and Bob Scott on drums.

Beginning with Beatin’ the Heat featuring Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Bette Midler, Ricki Lee Jones and Brian Setzer in 2000, Dan returned to releasing albums with the Hot Licks under Surfdog Records. Alive and Lickin’, a live album with the Hot Licks followed in 2001. In 2003, Surfdog released Dan Hicks and The Hot Licks: Featuring an All-Star Cast of Friends (live CD + DVD.) These albums reinvigorated Hicks, and the guests reflected their longtime admiration for the Hot Licks. Dan Hicks and The Hot Licks' comeback was met with widespread critical acclaim and led to several more albums under the Surfdog label. Selected Shorts featuring Jimmy Buffet, Willie Nelson and Gibby Haynes was released in 2004, then a downloadable compilation of Hicks's previously released duets in 2007, Tangled Tales in 2009, Crazy For Christmas in 2010, and Live at Davies in 2013. In February 2017, to honor Dan on the first anniversary of Dan Hicks passing, Surfdog Records will release Greatest Licks – I Feel Like Singin’, a compilation album paying tribute and celebrating Dan’s life and legacy.

Hicks occasionally played jazz standards at intimate venues in the San Francisco Bay Area with Bayside Jazz.[4]

In the film Class Action (1991), Hicks is seen performing with Eisenberg and Price at Rosatti's in San Francisco. He also can be seen in several documentary films, including Revolution (1968) and Rockin at the Red Dog (1996).

Thomas Dolby covered his song "I Scare Myself".[5]

Musical style[edit]

In the Oxford American, Hicks's music is called a form of swing that crossed genres.[6] Bilboard called Hicks an eccentric whose music contained elements of country, folk, jazz, and comedy.[7] Hicks called his music "folk swing".[8]

Personal life[edit]

Hicks married Clare "CT" Wasserman in February 1997.[9] He was diagnosed with throat and liver cancer in 2014.[10] In March 2015, Hicks announced on his website that he had been diagnosed with liver cancer.[1] On February 6, 2016, he died from cancer at his home in Mill Valley, California.[11][12]


  • Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks (aka Original Recordings) (1969)
  • Where's The Money? (1971)
  • Striking It Rich (1972)
  • Last Train to Hicksville (1973)
  • It Happened One Bite (1978)
  • Shootin' Straight (1994)
  • The Amazing Charlatans (1996)
  • Return to Hicksville (1997)
  • Early Muses (1998)
  • Beatin' The Heat (2000)
  • The Most of Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks (2001)
  • Alive and Lickin' (2001)
  • Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks – With an All-Star Cast of Friends (2003)
  • Selected Shorts (2004)
  • Tangled Tales (2009)
  • Crazy for Christmas (2010)
  • Live at Davies (2013)
  • Greatest Licks - I Feel Like Singin' (2017)


  1. ^ a b "Welcome to Hicksville!". Danhicks.net. December 9, 1941. Retrieved February 6, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Dan Hicks". IMDb. Amazon.com. Retrieved February 6, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Dan Hicks". Music Liner Notes. Retrieved February 6, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Bayside Jazz with Dan Hicks". Baysidejazz.com. September 11, 2010. Retrieved February 6, 2016. 
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 163. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  6. ^ "Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks" (PDF). Danhicks.net. Retrieved February 6, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Dan Hicks Biography". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 6, 2016. 
  8. ^ Dan Hicks Describing His Musical Style 7-3-07 at Riverwalk Center, Breckenridge, CO. on YouTube
  9. ^ Righi, Len (August 21, 2004). "Singer-songwriter Dan Hicks gets in his licks about music and modern culture". The Morning Call. Tribune Media. Retrieved February 6, 2016. 
  10. ^ The Associated Press (February 6, 2016). "Wife Says Singer and Band Leader Dan Hicks Dies at Age 74". ABC News. ABC. Retrieved February 6, 2016. 
  11. ^ WRAL Staff (February 6, 2016). "Wife says singer and band leader Dan Hicks dies at age 74". WRAL-TV. Capitol Broadcasting Company. Archived from the original on February 7, 2016. Retrieved February 6, 2016. 
  12. ^ Jones, Kevin L. (February 6, 2016). "Dan Hicks, San Francisco Folk Jazz Pioneer, Dead at 74". Retrieved February 6, 2016. 

External links[edit]